In October 2014, when we lived in the town of Stanstead, Quebec, we decided to invite emerging voices of music to perform in our livingroom. We named our project after the town we lived in and so the Stanstead House Concerts Network – SHCN was born.
We wanted to create a network of ‘safe’ zones for emerging voices where they could perform, reinvent their sound, reconnect with their musical roots – and their audience. We believe all artists deserve to be paid for their work. We believe they deserve to be fed properly and sleep in comfortable safe environments.
We believe audiences want to experience something more than merely applauding on cue in a theatre where they are separated by distance and darkness from the artist and one another. We believe we can – and need – to do so much better to encourage the next generation of artists and the audiences who will support them.
We are firm believers in the power of the creative economy to make a significant difference in the quality of life and living in communities large and small. We see our network as the connective tissue bringing livingrooms and cafes and B&Bs and country inns and libraries and town halls and village meeting houses and theatres and studios and maker spaces – all sort of improbable venues – together.
Eventually, we realized our name was a bit of a misnomer. Our events were being presented in churches and town halls and bakeries and theatres – on both sides of the American/Canadian border. We looked for a new name that would convey both the simplicity and the artisanal feel of our model. Welcome to Maisons des Spectacles – literally translated as ‘Show Houses’ – with the recognition that a ‘maison’ (house) could signify almost anyplace, e.g., maison de la culture (cultural centre), an actual home, any place where both artists and audiences could feel at home.
When we examine how small cities lose their way economically there are a myriad of reasons why they fail. However, when we look at how they re-tool, re-build, and are re-born there is always a common thread. The creation of a cultural hub – the idea that the arts and education can intermingle and cross-pollinate to attract newcomers, to encourage long-time residents to stay, to act as a catalyst for economic development. At Maisons des Spectacles we see ourselves as part of the cultural hubs in cities, towns and villages in Appalachia north and south.
In five years, we have seen the impact live music, arts, and performing arts can have in breaking down barriers and reducing social isolation, in stimulating local economies, in creating economic stimuli for tourism and local entrepreneurs. Our focus remains, as always, on the artists, the audience, the presenters, and the communities we serve.
“À peine le pied sur le seuil de la porte qu’on se sent déjà en famille : un accueil convivial, des enfants qui s’amusent en courant après un chien, des hors-d’oeuvre pleins la table et un excellent groupe de musique en performance live dans le salon… Personne n’oserait penser que les invités en sont pratiquement tous à leur première rencontre.” – La Tribune, 10 aout 2015